The Magical Flying Beach Chair is a fancy name for a lift that brings people to the Mahogany Beach for $12.00! I rather walk to the beach but what the heck, I tried it anyway. It was fun and besides, the view is spectacular!
The only way you can get to the Mayan Jungle Canopy or to the different parts of the island is by renting a van or by a cab. There are no public transport getting to the Mayan Jungle Canopy. There are private shuttle buses that were contracted by the Carnival Cruise Lines that bring their customers directly to the Mayan Jungle Canopy. The fee is $45.00 per person. I paid $110 for tmy daughter and I, which is too much, but, we had the cab for the whole day and he also acted as our tour guide in the island.
Knowing that we would only have one day on the Island of Roatan, and wanting to see as much as possible, Karen and I went online before departing on our trip to see if we could find a local guide. We discovered the website of Theris Dixon, a young woman, native to the island, who operates a small business: Roatan Day Tours. Theris promised us a car and driver for the day at a reasonable price. We made all of our arrangements with her by email.
When we disembarked at Coxen Hole Theris was there to meet us, and introduced us to Enry, her husband, who did an excellent job of showing us his island. Enry previously worked on cruise ships for about eight years and speaks very good English. We also found him to be very knowledgeable about things to see and do on Roatan.
It so happens that our day on Roatan was our fifth wedding anniversary, and I can't imagine a better way we could have celebrated it. We certainly do not hesitate to recommend Theris and Enry to others who are planning a visit to Roatan.
Just a note for those who may have traveled to Roatan or other areas aboard TACA Airlines. They recently changed their baggage policy and have new weight restrictions. Used to be 2 bags 70 lbs per person. Now is Max Weight per bag is still 70lbs but combined weight cannot exceed 100 lbs so if one bag is 70 the other can only be 30. It is getting more difficult for divers with camera equipment to travel. See link below to Taca info.
Zethro took our group of 4 to a butterfly garden (where they also have parrots and mackaws you can hold), a tropical jungle botanical garden (Carambola), an iguana preserve, and a couple local photo spots. We ate lunch at Barefeet restaurant on the beach and had conch soup (yum). You won't get a private tour like this from the cruise ship! Just our 4 people, all day, wherever we asked him to take us, for a great price.
Cabs are easily found around hotels and West End. The generally charge $2.50 per person, or more when the cruise ships are in port. The ride to West End from West Bay is approx 10 minutes.
Water taxis can be found in West Bay in front of Infinity Bay. Prices are supposed to be $1.50 a person. The ride from West Bay to West End takes about 5 minutes and you are dropped off close to Lighthouse Restaurant.
Every Saturday (only) Continental flies one flight direct from Newark to Roatan, with no stop overs or plane changes. This is a huge plus when you look at all the layovers you may have to normally do getting to this part of the world. Big Plus!
There are several ways to get around Roatan. Most of the time, you should be able to get around by foot. Towns like West End only have one road (and it's not even paved!). To travel between towns, you can take a taxi, share a taxi or take a bus (which is really a minivan). Taxis are comfortable but fairly expensive, and on certain routes (like West End to the ferry terminal) they literally will not let you wait around for someone to share with. On most other routes, you can listen for the sound of a honking taxi to identify which taxis are open for sharing. These taxis cost a fraction of the price of a private cab, but significantly more than a bus. Busses run between the main towns on the island. As I mentioned, they are actually minivans and you need to be prepared to be sharing the van with up to TWENTY-FIVE other people!
As of January 2008, the ferry between Roatan and La Ceiba runs twice a day and takes just over an hour and a half. Current departure times FROM LA CEIBA are 10:00 and 16:00. From ROATAN the boat leaves at 7:00 and 13:00. The trip costs approximately $24 one-way, or $30 in first class. Don't bother with first class, I bought a first class ticket just to check it out and the only advantage is a TV that plays movies subtitled in Spanish on silent. A lot of people get sick on the boat, and there are designated employees who spend the ride handing out bags for people who are sick, but I found both crossings to be relatively smooth. You will have to check any large luggage- make sure to keep your claim tag. The best strategy for claiming your luggage on either side is to just wait until the crowds die down.
Although we arrived in Roatan by ship, it is also possible to fly to the Bay Islands. The Roatan International Airport is in Coxen Hole.
Direct flights are offered between Honduras and cities in North and Central America by TACA, LACSA, Delta, Continental Airlines, and Air Costa Rica. Direct flights to Roatan from Miami, Houston, and New Orleans are provided by TACA weekly.
Domestic air service from the Honduran mainland to Roatan is provided by Islena. Also, a new airline is currently being formed which will provide daily direct flights to Roatan from Miami and Houston, as well as providing domestic air travel.
Direct Flights to Honduras Mainland from North and Central America:
TACA, LACSA, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Air Costa Rica
Direct flights to Roatan from Miami, Houston, and New Orleans:
From Honduran mainland to Roatan:
Apparently a new airline is being formed which will provide daily direct flights to Roatan from Miami and Houston, as well as providing domestic air travel. Stay tuned.
Cruiselines are now including Roatan in one of their ports of call for many Western Caribbean cruises. There is a very good chance that this island will get developed very quickly so if you are looking for the raw and untouched it is advisible to go now! The more people find out about this wonderful place the more stores and hotels that will go up on the landscape.
Carnival Cruise is how I arrived to this island, but also Norweigian and Royal Caribbean visit this port. At this time it seems that they have 1-2 cruise ships there a day. It may be more in the future.
Watch out so that you don't go careening over a cliff! The local drivers zip around one lane roads that overlook the ocean, with no guardrails! There are frequently goats and cattle in the road. I was waiting for an accident. I can not describe my relief at still being alive!
The inexpensive route to get to Roatan is to fly (internationally) in to San Pedro Sula and bus to the port town of La Cieba, then fairy across to Roatan. While the road from San Pedro Sula to La Cieba is in good condition, it is slow going and takes at least 3 hours. The fairy gets you to the island in resonable time as far as boats go.
My recommendation - save your self the extra day in the sun and on the beach and fly to Roatan from San Pedro Sula.
Taca Airlines has flights from San Pedro Sula to Roatan.
If you are stopping by for a day from a cruise ship I would recomend just using a Taxi to get around, there are many waiting for you at the dock and you will be able to work out a very good price.
Now if you are there a little longer and/ or more adventurous then the rental car is the way to go but please be very careful. Walking is a main mode of transportation so you need to look out for the people, cows, and horses that share the road. Also beware that the road that was fine in the morning may be very different after a heavy rain. Mud can be quite deep as well and there is no AAA auto club to come tow you out of a mess. I have included a picture of a surprise we met on the way to our house this last trip. Something we really never thought about.